Recent Reads: The 18th, 19th and 20th of 2018!

I have recently read three very different books; a novel by one of the best YA authors on the scene right now, a memoir by a fabulous, body positive friend of mine, and a funny, illustrated sort-of self-help non-fic. 

These books fit together perfectly, one after the other, in my mind. The themes and messages were similar in some ways, but different enough that I felt each one separate and stand alone on my mental bookshelf. One inspired me endlessly to be more vocal about my scars and positive about my body; one reassured me that not everyone 'adults' all that well...and one showed me the true darkness behind the scenes of a world famous fictional boy band. 

'I Was Born For This', by Alice Oseman. 

Alice Oseman was born to write this novel. A dark and funny look what happens when online fandom collides with real life in messy, bittersweet detail. Exposes the reality of being a fan - and being famous - without holding back any punches.
(via Lauren James on

It was a risky move starting another YA novel so soon after reading the best YAs I'd read in a very long time (see my previous Recent Reads post...and the one before that!), but I knew I was safe with Alice O. Her books 'Solitaire' and 'Radio Silence' were both unlike any other YA I'd read before; so realistic, relatable, clever and convincing. 

This story was brilliantly unique in its portrayal of fandoms, and personally, as a bona fide fangirl (although admittedly not in the 'boy band world'), I found it 100% accurate in terms of intensity, insanity...and kindness. I do consider myself on the same level of fan Angel is for The Ark, maybe, when it comes to Joshua Radin, Frances Cannon and Gilmore Girls. I don't just love what they create, I adore them as people and of course want them all (in the latter's case, the show's characters and the actors) to have every happiness and all the success they could possibly want and, in my opinion, deserve. 

It was fascinating to have two sides to this story; the fangirl, and the band. There was an unexpected alignment in the alternating perspectives and, as usual, Alice's chapters were cleverly succinct, and the two stories connected almost seamlessly. 

The story was believable, and in places genuinely upsetting. While I had this one on the go, I found myself carrying around the characters' issues and anxieties for hours after I put it down. I actually felt after a while that I needed to finish it faster, to get through the dark clouds. That involvement vibe doesn't happen with many of my reads, so I think it goes to show just how absorbing Alice O's storytelling is. 

I Was Born For ThisI Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

I absolutely love Alice O's style of writing, and she's SO good at creating solid, relatable characters. Seeing both sides of a celeb/fan relationship was awesome, v v different to any kind of narrative I've read before.

View all my reviews

'Am I Ugly?' by Michelle Elman. 

Am I Ugly?is this inspiring woman's compelling and deeply personal memoir that describes her childhood experiences of life-threatening health problems, long stays in hospital and fifteen complex surgeries that left her scarred, both mentally and physically. The narrative follows Michelle's journey from illness to health, and from childhood to adulthood as she deals with her body-confidence issues to embrace both her scars and her body – and help others to do the same. This remarkable book grapples with the wider implications of Michelle's experiences and the complex interplay between beauty and illness.

I had the absolute privilege of meeting this gorgeous woman recently, after a good while following her on social media and being constantly amazed by her bold af posts. She told me this book has been a project for her on and off since she was 13, and not only is that super inspiring but could also be why the chapters set in her school years were so true and real. This book has taken years to make, and it's pretty damn perfect. 

Obviously, I related to this book insane amounts; the tales of nights in hospital, the ogling kids at school, pain and suffering in illness - as well as the fun memories of the first year of university! Also, reading Michelle's words about survivor's guilt made me sob. I really felt like she got it - got me. Her chapters about her wrestling match with body confidence hit home, too; I almost cheered when I got to the magical light bulb moment when she came to love her body and not let others tear her down. 

I was so happy to have come across her story, because it made me feel like I wasn't alone, and wasn't unusual. 

I am hoping to feature this book a little more on the blog, in the near future, maybe around the publication date...

Hey Michelle, this is my formal request to send you a few questions for a longer blog post about your book. Is that cool? Thanks. x

Am I Ugly?Am I Ugly? by Michelle Elman

I related to this book and its author like you would not believe. It actually had me sobbing at points, and smiling, happily reassured and inspired, at others.

View all my reviews

'I Really Didn't Think This Through'by Beth Evans. 

'Like Mindy Kaling meets Hyperbole and a Half, I Really Didn’t Think This Through gets at the heart of what makes life both so challenging and so joyful—figuring out how to be a person in the world. Armed with her beloved illustrations, popular Instagram artist Beth Evans tackles a range of issues—from whimsical musings to deeply personal struggles—in this imaginative anti-guide to being your own person.'

I love that these mental health/'adulting'/self-care books are making the rounds at the moment; it may be one of my favourite trends in the book world for some time, and is no doubt helping countless individuals with their own personal problems. There's nothing quite like reading someone else's words about something you've felt, maybe something you couldn't make sense of, perfectly articulated and explained in a whole chapter of a book. I really liked Beth's voice and the amount of character in her illustrations. 

As I said in my Goodreads review (below), I had some trouble reading certain pages and paragraphs as the prose was sometimes abruptly interrupted by one of Beth's drawings (which obviously I love, but it was odd seeing them suddenly in the middle of a sentence). Other than that, the format and content of this book was lovely. 

This was the loveliest, most reassuring collection of thoughts, feelings and pro tips on living with anxiety and 'adulting'.

*I had some issues with the formatting - the writing was often interrupted needlessly by the (excellent) drawings mid-paragraph, which made me lose my flow at times. 

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